Taking a break from the folk-flavored mainstream country she's made her bones with, Suzy Bogguss teams up with Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson for an easygoing, spirited exploration of cool, swinging jazz with a pop sheen. Benson produces as past and present members of the Wheel shore up the instrumental roster, leaving Bogguss a lot of room to expand the boundaries of her artistry. Those who enjoyed Jane Monheit's expressive contributions to Mark O'Connor's In Full Swing album will hear a kindred spirit in Bogguss, who shows off a flawless facility with lighthearted, up-tempo numbers such as the Nat King Cole evergreen "Straighten Up and Fly Right," a languorous, bluesy touch on Duke Ellington's dreamy "Do Nothing Until You Hear from Me," and an engaging sauciness on a lush, big-band treatment of "It's Always New to Me." Benson himself steps out from behind the board for a spirited duet with Bogguss on the freewheeling "Cupid Shot Us Both with One Arrow," its frenetic pace spiced with a stuttering, Stephane Grappellistyle fiddle solo. Singing free and easy, and with unassailable command throughout, Bogguss sounds right in her element. If mainstream country is losing one of its distinctive stylists, at least the Great American Songbook is gaining another premier interpreter.
Despite having scored a string of country chart hits in the late 80s and early 90s, Bogguss never really fit the Nashville orthodoxy, having to forsake early covers of Patsy Montana and Merle Haggard for crossover material that made her a star. By the mid-90s she’d moved on to idiosyncratic (but highly charming) releases such as her duet album with Chet Atkins, "Simpatico," before taking a couple of years off to start a family. ¶ Upon her return to recording, she filled out her contract with Capitol, and began an indie recording career. This third indie release reveals, in startling clarity, just how brilliant a singer Bogguss really is. Not that her country recordings secreted the quality of her voice, but this all-Swing affair highlights how beautifully she can caress a melody, and how well she can draw out a lyric. Producer Ray Benson (of Asleep at the Wheel fame) smartly supports her with a tight, acoustic combo that’s able to lay back or swing, as needed. Jason Roberts’ violin is especially fine in its evocation of Stephane Grappelli, Spencer Starnes adds wonderfully lyrical stand-up bass, and Dave Biller’s guest spot on "It’s All About You" once again proves him an ace among aces. ¶ Bogguss constructs her songbook on a foundation of classics, including a playful reading of Nat King Cole’s "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and a songbird’s stroll through Duke Ellington’s "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me." Smartly, though, she draws heavily on sophisticated new songs from April Barrows, Paul Kramer, and even her own pen. The resulting mood balances vintage timbre with modern emotion, swinging free and easy with the confidence (though not the swagger!) of Sinatra’s early Capitol sides. Bogguss is much more than a former pop crooner (e.g., Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole) looking for fresh commercial ground, she’s a jazz singer set loose. This set is the deepest and most artistically complete album of Bogguss’ career. ¶ 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.
More than 1 year ago
It is a good Jazz record with a country sound. Susy Boguss has a nice warm voice. The Wheel back her up superbely.
More than 1 year ago
Suzy Bogguss has done it again! "Swing" is an absolute gem! 12 songs and I can't pick a favorite. They're all pleasing to the ear with Suzy's obvious timeless voice. Toe tapping and lovey dovey this CD went in my CD player and hasn't left it yet! Bravo Suzy for originality and charm!